[To the Rev. B. G.] London, 7 April 1841.
My dear Friend, None but such as God takes in hand really know what it is to be pulled to pieces. How I see on all hands not one escapes! Expectations cut off, purposes thwarted, designs frustrated, till at length the DESTRUCTION appears, to which God will turn those whom he purposes to bid to return and live [Psa. xc. 3]. This destruction does not only come at the beginning, but as long as we live the Lord will strike at all our fleshly expectations to which we are (at least I am) continually subject.
I was very sorrowful last night, and much cast down. I have lately pondered much the way in which I have been led the last two years, and have looked at the repeated and continual difficulties in which I have been involved; and yet I think I never found spiritual life more in exercise, nor such frequent visits from the Lord to comfort me. I needed the comfort, because the nature of my troubles led me greatly to suspect and fear many things in myself, and that these would accumulate like a great mountain, which I should not be able to pass over on a dying bed. This was not a slight reflection that soon passed off; but it has been a long continued judging of myself, every now and then attended with such fears as like a flood overwhelmed me. I have at different periods had some very sweet and precious and encouraging words applied to my heart, which have comforted me much for a time; but the returning of the clouds after the rain has greatly depressed me.
This morning early, being desirous of having some kind token from the Lord, and feeling an anxious desire to have clear work, I said, Lord, did I offend and grieve thy most Holy Spirit in the matter of my daughter's illness in any way? or did I offend in the affair of F. J.? Did I offend in my communications with Hertford or Pulverbach? or have I grieved thy Spirit in my writing to other places? O Lord, thou only knowest whether I was simple and sincere. Have my communications with our own church grieved thee? Hast thou not made me truly, in secret, to desire thy honour? and though I am of all sinners chief, yet hast thou not made me honest? O Lord, if it please thee, show me if I walk in anything wherein I offend thy blessed Majesty. Here the Lord softened my spirit, and I could not proceed; my heart began to melt, and a ray of heavenly light showed me all the way I had come; and though it had been a path of great humiliation, yet I perceived that underneath were the everlasting arms of love and mercy. Thus was the Lord pleased to break in upon my soul with a clear token of his love, and the sweetest sense of his approbation, without one rebuke.
This light of life discovered many things which it is my wisdom to withhold; but it certainly discovered this - that if the Lord gives us simplicity and sincerity, you and I may rest assured we shall be found among the number of his chosen ones, and shall make it manifest that "in him we live and move and have our being." It is inexpressibly sweet to have such a Friend; how often has he saved us from despair! The Lord has been with me much of late in my morning readings, and I have felt the great importance of the truths spoken, though for the most part I have been "as a sparrow alone upon the house top." I am much surprised in reading John Knox and others, to find the very same things that exercise me set forth by them as their trials. This comforts me with a prospect of a happy issue, and reconciles me to the cross.
Remember me very kindly to Mrs. G., and tell her not to be disheartened because she perceives the battle waxes hot, but to remember what I have written often before - how the Lord said, "Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." This is not our rest, and the Lord will make us to know it; and he will also make us to know the sweet refreshing rest that is to be found in all the kind visits of the Lord Jesus Christ. These more than compensate for all our troubles, and afford us a sweet perception of the reality of eternal life, and of being for ever with the Lord. May you and she have a goodly portion in these things is the prayer of
Your affectionate friend, J. B.